Nothing to Do With Opera

by Suzanne Calvin

Yes, nothing to do with opera; however, it has everything to do with the community in which we, too, invest a great deal of effort to create art, so it definitely caught my interest.

How would you identify and explain “Art in the Public Square” in the City of Dallas? I’m not being argumentative, I’m looking for insights: Where are the public spaces and the artworks that inspire you to take a few moments out of your day to stop and interact? Allow me to reiterate, public spaces -- not private.  For example, if DART has changed your life, has DART art contributed to its life-altering impact?

Is public art in North Texas (not museum collections, not private collections on public display) too limited to have impact, too corporate or bureaucratic, too safe, too isolated, too cold, too hot to the touch, too bland to be noticed, or too puzzling to be enjoyed?

Do you stumble onto public art like an unexpected oasis, and return to it again and again?  How many of you have indelible recollections of your kids playing near (or hanging off) public artworks, becoming part of the art experience themselves?  Do you ever meet someone there, or mention prominent public art when giving a stranger directions?  Does it demand to be noticed, walked upon, or leaned against?  Does public art bring you closer to an understanding of yourself, our common humanity, or your God?  Do you instinctively hurry towards it, or hustle past it?  Does it simply feel good to be around, or does it feel good because it encourages us to think about something other than the mind-numbing tasks at hand?

What is the purpose of public art?  And does that purpose differ from place to place around the world?   

Mentally strip your environment of all the public art you encounter in your daily rounds (a lot of it, admittedly, on private property), especially the pieces you barely notice.  Now, how would the loss of all this art affect your perceptions of your community, your immediate state of mind, and your overall quality of life?

There’s delectable food for thought in this article by Jerome Weeks of KERA’s “Art and Seek.”  Reading it may make you hungry for more -- art, that is.

(Detail from Jane Helslander’s “Floating in Space: A Waltz” located at DFW Airport’s Terminal D, courtesy of Pamdora’s Box)

Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media and PR

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